If you’re keeping score, I’m working on a new album.

So far I’ve recorded: drums (thanks Tim!), bass (thanks Joel!), acoustic guitar, lead vocals, some piano, and some background vocals. The one big instrument I haven’t tracked yet is electric guitar.

I’m getting ready to knock those tracks out in the next few days, and as I prepare for that, I figured I’d share with you a bunch of ways NOT to prepare for a guitar session.

(Sometimes it’s just more effective to teach what NOT to do rather than what TO do.)

So, here we go…here are 7 ways to be really poorly prepared for an electric guitar session.

  1. DON’T change your strings. Everybody knows new strings sound harsh. If you can actually have strings that are MONTHS old, you’ll be glad you left ’em on.
  2. DON’T practice parts beforehand. This is especially true if you’re more of an acoustic guitarist than an electric guitarist. Just wing it. You’ll be fine.
  3. DON’T bother with good cables. It’s an old wives’ tale that nicer cables sound any better than cheaper cables. Heck, go as cheap as possible.
  4. DON’T have the guitar set up properly. If you’ve got a new guitar, fresh from the music store, it sounds as good as it ever will. No need to have it set up. You’ll only make it worse.
  5. Plan to record as many takes as possible. This works especially well if you really nail #2. Any mistakes can be covered up by doubling the part 4 or 12 times. If one track sounds amazing, a dozen or so will be EPIC. Trust me.
  6. Get your distortion pedals ready. If you’re gonna double every part multiple times, then you’ll definitely need a hefty amount of overdrive or distortion on those tracks. That’s how you keep ’em sounding full. When in doubt, crank it up a little more.
  7. Don’t worry about dialing in great tone. They have plugins for that.

So, there you go. Surefire way to make sure those electric guitar tracks sound like poop.

Speaking of poopy guitars, you still have through the weekend to enter to win a free ticket to my new Recording Electric Guitar class.

Head over here to enter.

Tickets go on sale bright and early Monday morning. 9am Central time.

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  • I totally disagree with the first “tip”. Changing your strings all the time is totally unnecessary. It is a old wives tale created by music stores & string manufacturers.

    Sure, new strings sound brighter but the problem is they quickly dull over a session. Plus brand new strings are not as stable tuning wise (even if you stretch them). Pros all know that it is better to play & record with strings that are “played in” even though they sound a little duller.

    Granted, I take it to the extreme. Sometimes a set ov strings can remain on my guitar for over a year and in that time compleat 3-4 seasonal recordings. And I bet you would not be able to hear the difference from the recording where the string have been recently changed, and the one where they are massively old.

    People always think if they have a nice this & a flash that then they’ll be making great sounding recordings. This is simply not true. You need experience & talent.

    • In my experience, if I leave strings on for a couple months, they lose intonation like crazy, and the tone is really dull.

  • Nate

    Haha sarcastic Joe in today’s post; nice! The first one is something most of my clients don’t ever even think of, just like putting nrew heads on their drums. If you know how to properly change your stings properly (yes there is a tried and true way of doing this to make sure that they dont constantly go out of tune, which has to do with the way they are wound around the tuning post and then stretching them by hand before you start playing) and your guitar is in good condition and well intonnated, then changing the stings minutes before you record is the way to go. In fact if I’m doing a full day of electric guitar recording, I may even change them at the mid way point through the day’s session, then again at the start of the next day. This is another of those 5$ fixes that will instantly help your recordings. It’s obviously a little more pricey when doing bass strings, but also with bass strings they difference in quality is much more noticeable and worth every penny.

    • I’ve definitely been guilty of claiming something’s wrong with the guitar when it was really just worn-out strings.

  • Chase

    As I first started reading, I thought it was a list of things TO do (still early). Then I read number two. Very good list! Although I think my strings are at the optimum performance at around 3-4 weeks, because they’re still new-sounding and new-feeling, but they don’t go way out of tune every note.

    • Yeah, I’d agree that BRAND new strings may not be ideal, but several months old is much worse in my opinion.
      (And you’re not the only one to miss the sarcasm today.) Haha. 🙂

  • Miguel Sanchez

    I’ve always thought brand new strings sound awful (overly bright/harsh), I’d much rather record with strings that are a couple of months old than ones put on that morning (ideally I’d use strings that are at least 4-5 days old). Hey, it works for Neil Young.